PhD Dissertations: Gerald Thomas Conaty, 1986

Middle and Late Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Strategies in Western Kentucky

Changes in hunger-gatherer mobility strategies during the Middle and Late Archaic periods in western Kentucky are examined. Two types of mobility strategies are defined: residential mobility and logistic mobility. Any hunter-gatherer society is expected to reflect a mixture of the two. The tendency toward either extreme will be influenced by the availability, abundance and distribution of resources critical to human populations.

Data utilized in this study consists of stone artifacts from 15 assemblages recovered from six sites. These data include seven Middle Archaic assemblages from one site and eight Late Archaic assemblages from six sites. Analysis of lithic material types indicates that local cherts predominate in each assemblage. All material is of good quality and differences in assemblages cannot be attributed to efforts at raw material conservation.

Principal components analyses were undertaken to determine the structure of the assemblages. One analysis included complete assemblages while the second focused on chipped stone artifacts. Both analyses indicate that all assemblages reflect generalized, complex assemblages indicative of residential sites. There appears to be a change toward residential instability from Middle to Late Archaic times.

Further analyses of residential mobility focuses on biface manufacturing trajectories. Research by others has shown that the longer a site is occupied, the greater the trajectory length represented in an assemblage. Biface thinning flake lengths and striking platforms, together with biface width:thickness ratios are utilized as indices of trajectory length. Analyses of flake lengths indicate that trajectory lengths at Late Archaic sites are more restricted than in Middle Archaic assemblages. This suggests a trend toward shorter site occupations.

It is concluded that there was a trend from logistic mobility during the Middle Archaic toward residential mobility during the Late Archaic. Comparisons with other Archaic sites in the midcontinent reveal patterns both similar to and different from those observed at the sites under study. Responses to local ecological and sociocultural factors are thought to be responsible for these differences and similarities.